I enjoyed Jennifer Frahm’s article, “The Difference is in the Details,” in a recent edition of the Communication World.
Having just rebranded our company, this was a very timely subject for me.
Ms. Frahm suggests four steps to change communications:
- Establish the purpose of your communication during change. As we rebranded our company, we were communicating the change in vision, mission and values of a 75 year-old semi-state company that had created energy by harvesting and burning peat, Bord na Mona, to one that is progressive, committed to clean water, clean air and sustainability. The new name, Anua, means “renew” in Gaelic so it’s a very timely change and a relevant story given the “sustainability megatrend.”
- Understand your employees’ communicative expectations. Fortunately we are dealing with a small workforce and conducted a three-phase strategic planning process prior to the rebranding. As a result, employees were involved throughout the process and didn’t seem to have unmet expectations since they were involved very early in the process. This will be a very different situation when the company is rebranded in its country of origin. Although, having already introduced the new brand in the U.K. and the U.S., forwarding-looking employees in Ireland should have a good idea of what’s to come.
- Develop communicative competence. The branding firm and corporate marketing did a good job of introducing the Anua brand, graphic standards and the “Anua story” well in advance of our launch. Immediately prior to launch we reminded employees of the “Anua story” before going public at an industry conference. Most of our employees have consumer facing roles; as such, they were very comfortable talking to customers and prospects and telling the “Anua story” in a consistent manner.
- Engage with the background talk of change. Given the need to develop a new website and new sales collateral, there were numerous informal discussions about the formal change efforts so that everyone had a very good idea about how the rebranding would affect those products or services which they discussed most frequently with customers and prospects.
Based on my experience, and the four steps proposed in this article, I would urge you to communicate with your entire team early and often about the change and be open to answering any questions that may arise in advance.
The more questions your answer before the change, the fewer you will answer after the change.
What has been your experience with change communication?